Reader sees a 'bright light' in A Pace of Grace

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, August 18, 2004

One of the truly satisfying benefits from writing this column is observing the connections that develop among you, my coffee companions. One connection in particular is so beautiful I'd like to share it with you in detail.

Last week we met around Linda Kavelin Popov's new book, A Pace of Grace: The Virtues of a Sustainable Life. Drawing from her own experience with the fatigue, overwhelm and guilt associated with post-polio syndrome, the popular writer and speaker has provided practical guidance for all who are "drowning in the chaos of too many demands."

No sooner was the column on the Internet – you can always read past installments at – than this letter arrived from Edmonton writer Barbara Stevens:

I CRIED WHEN I read your column today. I am a post-polio survivor struggling to cope with the new challenges facing me. For years, I have had diminished physical capabilities and have been overwhelmed by the demands of learning how to cope with my illness.

Today, you provided the answer to my prayers by recommending the book by Linda Popov. I have been in her place of darkness. I have reserved a copy at the bookstore and my husband will pick it up on his way home. How I look forward to reading her book and embarking on a new path in my journey. I need a "gentle shift of spirit," as well as learning how to look after my own needs with a gentle lift of spirit.

Thank you, Warren, for once again providing the means by which a reader can be encouraged and uplifted. It is very comforting to know that we are not alone and that we are blessed to have you bringing us all together.

—Barbara Stevens, Edmonton

IN A SEPARATE NOTE, Barbara wrote of the many wonderful holidays she and her husband of 46 years, Leonard – "the one constant in my life" – have spent near Tofino on Vancouver Island. "We have walked the sands for miles – together," she said. But her physical condition deteriorated such that she went from cane, to walker, and finally to wheelchair. When she was there this May, she wrote some poetry about the changes in her lifestyle:

hand in hand
we walked on the shifting sands
collecting shells
collecting memories

he walks the sands alone
collecting shells

hand in hand
we sit and watch the ocean waves

She concluded a second poem with these stirring words:

My life was written in the sand
and changed by the tides.

A few days after receiving her notes, I wrote Barbara and asked whether she'd been into Linda's book yet. She replied:

JUST AS I FELT that you had written your column just for me, I feel that Linda wrote A Pace of Grace also for me. When I finish a chapter or several pages, Leonard joins me and I read out to him the sentences I have underlined. He told me today that if I follow the lessons that Linda teaches, then I will definitely experience a better life.

The book has already changed my outlook on my future and changed how I feel about me. It has given me hope when hope was hiding behind fear and physical, mental and emotional struggles. People who have had a near-death experience talk about a bright light that they are tempted to move toward. Well, Linda has provided my "bright light" and I am eagerly moving toward it because I know how much it will change my life.


LAST WINTER, I featured a letter from Barbara about her experience of jazz in New Orleans. On that occasion she said of the various musicians who just happened to show up and play: "Each of them knew the music, knew the rhythms, and because they were playing from their hearts, the notes blended together."

Well, I think Linda and Barbara have "blended together" beautifully over a pace of grace. They share the same "music," the same "rhythms."

And for this heart-connection I am profoundly grateful.

© 2004 Warren Harbeck

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